Summer in the Garden

The days have been long and hot here. With all five of us on holidays, time has stretched and elongated across weeks of activity with each task, moment, day seamlessly blending into the next. We lay in bed each night, exhausted, wondering together just how we managed to fill our summery days quite so much.

We have inherited a neglected and lazily sloping terraced garden at our new home. Each day we spend time exploring it; snipping back vines of ivy and jasmine to uncover fruit trees (plums, limes, nectarines, lemons) and native plants (grevillea, banksia, wattle, flowering gums), lifting up rocks to discover hidden keys, sweeping the dirt away from the edges of red brick paved paths to find the paths are wider than once thought, extra rows of bricks are hidden underneath the edges of the beds. Slowly, over time, the garden has edged its way across the paths, and eaten everything in sight.

I’ve been slowly placing all my succulent pots around the garden in an attempt to make it look nice, but it is such a mess, it really is going to take us so long to bring our garden up to speed. Though, truth be told, I’m discovering that I love this process. I was sweeping our front paths today when an older couple walked past. We said our hellos and the woman commented, “A lot of work here, these leaves are relentless!” I agreed, and continued sweeping, only to realise I had been out the front pottering and sweeping and looking and dreaming and exploring for over an hour.

Last weekend we were given nine (NINE!) new plants, all propagated by a family member. We have three silver princess, three jacarandas and three ornamental silk trees to plant around our home. This has encouraged us to examine the light, the slope, the plants in more detail than ever.

Today and tomorrow we might plant some of them, if the heat allows. I know we will look back at photos in years to come and can’t wait to take note of their progress.

I am enjoying this space more than I had anticipated. I watch as the light turns pink in the evenings and see the gentle lean of the plants as they reach towards the sun. I see the weeds and vines enveloped and wrapped around the plants – straining to escape. Day by day we will continue to uncover and untangle and unleash. I’m learning as I go: observing, pottering, playing, experimenting. I’m so excited to see where this garden takes us and can’t help but feel like it chose us for a reason.

de ja vu

2016-01-16 11.15.12.jpg

This afternoon we arrived home from the beach, once again, for the final time this month. We’ve spent the last four days back on the coast, pretending that holidays last for ever and ever and that we don’t have any responsibilities or plans or commitments or anything else to do other than wander to the beach each morning via our favourite little coastal coffee van and play with the girls on their scooters and eat sandwiches and grapefruits and in the evenings: icecream.

But as we all know well enough, holidays come to an end. And here we are. At home. Again. Feeling the quiet rumble of anxiety in the pit of my stomach, all those icky things-coming-to-an-end type feels. KB is working the next couple of days, doing some training before the school term begins again; we will tag team this week so that I can get some work done too.

Since arriving home late this afternoon we’ve checked on our plants (yet another fern has come to a dismal end under my amateur care), picked some snowpeas, cooked some beetroot, roasted all our remaining veg from the week (pumpkin, capsicum – red and yellow, carrots, and garlic) jumbled together with cheese, leftover rice and sun dried tomatoes for an easy summer dinner, made bliss balls for snacks tomorrow, mixed some oats and chia seeds together with almond milk for breakky, milled some brown rice and put it aside to soak overnight for baby, done our veg box order for this week, paid a bill and hung out the washing. After dinner we played on the back deck as the sun went down.

Tomorrow the new week will begin, and I’m determined to stay cool and not get frazzled with the daily grind of washing, mess, toys, meals, nappies. I’m going to keep reminding myself of my goals this year. (One of which I have already knocked off yesterday by doing an 8km hike with Peachy babe on my back and KB by my side – first long walk since she was born. Yes, yeah, hooray, fist pump! Officially addicted to kicking goals! Yippee! Etc.)

It’s going to be a hot one here. Stay cool (physically, metaphorically, emotionally), wherever you are.

P.S. Have you read this blog? It’s just the sort of fun reading I like to do when I’m getting all motivated and outdoorsy and loving summer. You might like it too.

homecoming

2015-12-27 15.35.18It’s always a strange thing, walking into your house after you’ve been away. Everything is still. When we arrived home from the beach a few days ago there was some folded washing on the table and a discarded toy near a doorway; quiet remnants of us. It’s especially strange coming home after Christmas when there are new things in the house. These days it is mainly new toys that greet us; Bird spent a good 45 minutes on her top bunk absorbed with new books and little knick knacks while I made an attempt at pulling dinner together out of the things we brought home (sweet potato chips, almonds, avocado, sliced cucumbers, a bowl each of rice with butter and garlic, and some fruit: slightly strange mix but surprisingly satisfying).

A couple of days later some of the washing has been done, some of the clothes unpacked and a small sense of rhythm has returned to our days. We plan to get some things done around the house this week and head back to the coast next week to make the most of the warmer weather.

This morning I stayed home while the others went to the park, and did some writing and other admin for a new project I have been lucky enough to be hired for. It’s a short term community consultation project for a not-for-profit which I can do from home and on weekends – I can’t actually believe my luck!

Other than that we spent a good couple of hours soaking up some sunshine and drinking coffee with our notebooks, dreaming up some goals and plans for 2016. I feel like we’ve turned to a new page, we’ve been down in the lovely, intense and deep trenches of pregnancy, birth and babies for over six years, and now we are slowly emerging, all five of us, new and evolved and ready for the next phase of our lives. I can feel it in my bones, in the way I lift my face towards the light and see the possibilities ahead.

Tomorrow, on the new moon, I’m going to share some of my goals for this year. What about you, do you have any ideas for this new and fresh year? What inspirations are you chasing?

remembering myself

We had to make a trip to the shopping centre earlier today. Going up the lift, all five of us: pram, baby in arms, bags, holding hands. An elderly man entered the lift. We stood silently for a moment.

You’ve got your hands full, he said, looking at the children.

Yes! We smiled.

Silence.

Silence.

We looked around politely trying to avoid each others’ reflection in the elevator mirrors.

It beeped and the doors opened.

We had six! He said. Then smiled and walked away.

I watched him with his sports bag, heading towards the swimming centre and imagined him doing a few slow laps up and down the pool. Turning his head to breathe. Pulling his arm through the thickness of the water and perhaps pausing every now and then at the end to clean his goggles or check the time. I imagined his six children, grown up and moved out and on and with families of their own.

As I type this I’m home alone, KB has taken the girls to the park so I can clean the house, which is our number one priority whenever one of us gets a moment alone. Says me, as I sit at my laptop and type… I have put a few things away (scoffs). As I have moved from one room to another, just me, I’ve felt my feet on the floor, my hands folding linen, my knees as I’ve knelt down to pick up toys and place them in a basket.

Me, just me.

I’m still here, underneath and in amongst and surrounded by this. Patiently waiting: quietly, non-hurriedly.

life in the fast lane

Guys, it’s been a while. I’m not going to launch into apologies though because I’d therefore be setting a terrible precedent and would likely have to begin posts that way every time given my lack of consistency here. Let’s just all acknowledge my blogging has become very sporadical, and then none of us will be disappointed. I’ve also got weird things going on with photos on the blog which I haven’t had time to investigate so many apologies there.

Moving on. I don’t even know where to start really, so much has been happening lately, hence my disappearance from this space. Mothers who work: please come to my aid. I am falling to pieces in my new life. Don’t laugh, but I really don’t think I’m cut out for employment. Do you hear me? Seriously, working and parenting and maintaing some semblance of a life of my own – um, slightly unrealistic people!!! Whoever put this idea into my head that I could do it all, please stand up now so that I can have someone to blame other than myself (and possibly throw something [soft] at you)… and my husband… who really would like to get out of the line of fire right now (sorry KB).

Basically I’ve got my knickers in a knot and they have become rather tight. Most of you know I’m not terribly organised… and that was when I was a stay at home mum. Now I’m a working mum and my life is a complete shambles. It is literally raining down around me in the form of dirty laundry, upset children and unmade beds… all my cooking, sewing, whole foods, meal planning, tidying, being-on-top-of-things, hanging out at the park, going with the flow, wearing thongs (flip flops) type lifestyle is currently ground to a complete halt.

I spent two hours last night washing dishes, and the house is still a mess.

I put on three loads of washing today and still had to step over laundry to get to my lounge room tonight.

I mopped the floor last night at 8.30pm (on a Saturday night… joy) and today it is covered in muck.

The girls and I went down into the backyard this morning for the first time in over a month, and it was – quite literally – a jungle. There were a number of dandelions which were taller than Birdie… she’s four and a half. (I pulled them out?)

Even when I do make an effort, life seems to overcome me.

When I think of the term ‘working mother’ I think of a lady with her hair pulled back (neatly), wearing a black (or navy) blazer, smart shoes and a crisp shirt or blouse of some description. She gets home to a house with tiles, and most likely a foyer or entrance area where shoes, coats and keys are neatly and minimally placed. She has planned her meals for the week and she has one of those island bench thingys (cleared and clean) in the middle of her (tiled) kitchen. The children wear clean clothes (possibly ironed) and have places to put their various things. A place for everything and everything in its place. Is this what you think of?

I asked my Mum the other day, “Do you think I’m dirty?” She laughed and said no, but there was a slight hesitation and I’m fairly confident she was lying.

I’ve noticed most motherly type blogs give advice on how to do things and get things right. I fear I am continually leaning in the opposite direction, begging for help and advice myself. Nevertheless, in my heart of hearts I know that there are other messy, disorganised mothers out there who tirelessly blame their creativity (ha!) and fun loving natures (ha!) for their lack of coordination in the home, and that they are still brilliant mothers. If I can’t become the mum in the blazer with the kitchen island, I only wish I knew how to sit more comfortably amongst the dirty washing in my moth eaten t-shirt.

Any words of advice, commiseration or camaraderie would be warmly accepted.

buy nothing new christmas // the first of a new series

A few years ago, in the spirit that I like to do most things in – completely last minute – I decided I was going to have a Buy Nothing New Christmas. There seemed to be a lot of chit chat going on in the blogosphere about having periods of buying nothing new, and nothing motivates me more than a challenge! So I dove in head first and have to say it was such a satisfying experience that I have *almost* done it every Christmas since. In fact, I was so motivated, my Buy Nothing New challenge continued for the first six months of 2011!

It made me realise not only how much we consume needlessly in our daily lives, but how much we can do without, and more to the point, how much great stuff is circulating the planet as rubbish, because we are constantly, obsessively, compulsively replacing things that are still in perfect condition. It truly is a sad state of affairs.

I thought it might be fun to share some of my bookmarked (now who’s old fashioned?!) ideas with you over the coming weeks, so if you are thinking of having your own Buy Nothing New Christmas, there will be plenty of creative ideas here. Of course the other option is to buy presents at an op shop or an online vintage marketplace like etsy so that you are giving unwanted items a new life, rather than supporting the business of waste.

If you think this is all a load of hoo-ha, check out this video and it might give you a new perspective. On a larger scale, and if you have a bit more time, I love, love, love this movie. Maybe you could chow down with a bowl of homemade popcorn and watch it tonight? Yes, do it! Watch it!

Now to get us going, here are some wrapping and gift presentation ideas:

// Gift bag tutorial: Petite Purls

// Cute placard idea: Flax and Twine

// Paper globes to decorate presents: Tiny Happy

// Simple gift tags: A Little Hut

// Make your pressies extra cute with these free printable moustaches! : Marie Claire

I have loads more in my bookmarks and also on my christmas pinterest board, but I think five is a respectable number. Over the coming posts I will share gift ideas for babies, kids, girls, boys, ladies, gents and so on.

What do you think? Are you feeling motivated? Do you think you can do your bit to slow down our crazy consumption obsession this year?

summer days

Firstly a big thank you to all who commented and sent me messages after my post the other day. You have all given me a renewed sense of hope that it is possible to introduce formula to supplement breastfeeding and still go on to have a happy and healthy breastfeeding experience. I can’t say how much that means to me, thank you!

IMG_2665

IMG_3034

IMG_3048

IMG_3137

IMG_3168

We move slowly through our summer days.

With our pixie on her new routine of being topped up in the evening with some formula, she is all of a sudden sleeping in the day time in her bassinet for up to TWO HOURS. This is unheard of for us, and just confirms for me that the poor little pet was needing some more in her tummy before she could drift off into a comfortable sleep. Lovely Sue, my lactation consultant, is hopeful that with a bit more sleep she will have some more energy to tackle mastering breastfeeding. One can only hope that this is the case. We will persevere!

Our summer days at home are mostly filled with the day to day stuff that comes from having a little person and a small baby in the house. Washing, drying and folding clothes. Changing sheets and replacing them with crisp ones, cool to crawl into on hot summer nights. Stacking and unstacking the dishwasher. Taking breaks to read books to a little person, always eager for company and attention. Sweeping the floor and rocking the baby. Watching her big eyes show interest in a waving leaf, a jumping big sister, a new toy. Continuously boiling the kettle and never getting around to that cup of tea. I think the other day I boiled it eight times before I got my cuppa. True story.

I write lists, many lists, and each night I sit down at our bench with a cold grapefruit and a cup of herbal tea (odd combination?) and review the day. I write a list for the following day and add things to my dairy and the calendar. Because, of course, 2013 is the year we Get Organised!

Prince Charming is heading back to work next week. After over five weeks with him at home I am both nervous and excited about what the next chapter holds.

 

 

 

time to give in

Note: give in, not give up.

The pixie is now three and a half months old. For three and a half months now we have battled together. Perhaps an apt name for this saga in our lives would be The Breastfeeding Wars: Starring Mama and The Pixie.

IMG_3120

You probably remember a while back me talking about our breastfeeding dramas. Well, I haven’t talked about them of late, mainly due to plain exhaustion, but things have not improved. You can read more about the background to our story here and here. I have been given all manner of advice over the last few months and have slowly been filtering through it all in my mind.

The first time I realised in my heart that something was not right was when she was just a few days old. I remember thinking, she doesn’t seem to stay on for very long, I don’t think she is getting enough milk.

If only then I had trusted my instincts.

With that in mind I asked to breastfeed in front of our [hopeless] maternal child health nurse when she was one week old. The nurse looked at me and said, “Well yes, I can hear her swallowing.” Ok then, I guess all is well…

If only then I had trusted my instincts.

 Since then I have had email counselling with a lactation consultant, I’ve sat with a lady from the ABA for three hours, I have seen the doctor, I have complained to my health nurse, I have googled and read all manner of mummy forums. I have read endless books and called the health nurse hotline. I have cried. I have thought many times about giving up.
The main suggestions from the crew above have been:
:: She has colic.
:: She has reflux.
:: She is fussy.
:: They are all different (love that one).
All the while my instincts have been telling me one thing, one niggling, nagging, titter-tattering thing: she is hungry, she is hungry, she is hungry.
When you are in a situation, it is so hard to see what is right in front of you. It’s also, in this culture, difficult to allow yourself to trust your instincts, particularly as a parent.
Over the past three weeks, with some advice from my mum and sis, I have been expressing after every feed and topping up our lady with a bottle. She guzzles it. My heart flitters and flutters seeing her drink. When she finishes, she wants more. She cries. She doesn’t sleep much. She is hungryI am exhausted.
Today I took Miss Pixie for a weigh in. It wasn’t great. I am not one to take much notice of The Rules, but this time it just confirmed what I have been thinking, feeling, knowing: she is hungry.
This afternoon I saw a lactation consultant. She is convinced the pixie isn’t getting enough because she isn’t latching on properly. Why oh why this hasn’t already been picked up, I do not know. Why oh why I didn’t know this, as a second time mama, I do not know. I am trying not to blame myself.
Because she doesn’t feed for long, my supply has been drastically affected. The constant expressing helped in the beginning, but the pressure to produce the milk and feed her more and more is taking its toll. I am very stressed and under the pump, literally.
So you are asking, what now?
Now, I’ve decided, it’s time to give in. Note, like I said earlier: give in, not give up.
I am going to start supplementing one or two of her feeds with formula. I had to pause to type those words.
With the pressure off the hope is that I will be more relaxed and able to produce milk, and the pixie won’t be so hungry so will be happier and the whole situation will be easier for us all to work with. In the meantime the consultant, Sue, lovely Sue, has shown me how to try to re-teach her to latch on and get more of the breast in her mouth.
I really hope it works.
I have to also add in here a public apology to my Prince Charming. When my lovely fellow mentioned the word formula to me a few days ago, I responded with the vigour and outrage that one would expect had he said let’s feed our baby toxic waste. I’m sorry darling. It was not your suggestion that upset me, just my own high-achiever expectations that I, as mother, should be able to do that which is most basic: feed my hungry baby myself. Thank you for being patient with me and giving me the time and space to realise admit that you were right.  

go the #$*! to sleep

You all know the book, right? I thought of it tonight as I stood in the middle of my bedroom, N screaming the house down from her cot, “I NEED A TI-II-II-II-SUEEEE!” the baby wailing in my arms, “WAHHHHH” and Prince Charming knocked out on the couch with gastro. It was — IS — one of those situations where I have to laugh, or I might just end up huddled in a corner.

S has been treated today by my lovely osteo friend, as the breastfeeding was going downhill and tears increasing after each feed. It was like I was given a different baby after she left, I even managed to feed her for 20 minutes on one side this evening! That is a record and up from the two-three minutes she was taking at a time earlier today. Turns out the poor little pet has had a really knotted up tummy, which I suspected. If you have a newborn and you’re in doubt… actually, if you just have a newborn full stop, I highly recommend a trip to the osteo. Anyway, maybe the thrill of breastfeeding my baby in a calm and orderly manner has given me the positivity to get through this evening… although I know it’s not over yet.

N drifted off around 7.30pm after I went in and promised to come back after S was in bed (knowing she would most likely fall asleep before then!) S has fallen asleep about 20 times only to wake again a few minutes later. Each time I thought I had her I would go out to the kitchen and shove a few liquorice allsorts in my mouth and go to… heat up my dinner.

WAHHHH!

… stare longingly at my dinner that I cooked at 5.30pm, stone cold and hard on the bench. Walk back into the room, pick her up, rockety-rock. Eyes closed, back in the bassinet, tiptoe out… The fact that half the pack of liquorice allsorts is gone gives you an indication of how many times this was repeated. Two hours later as I type this she is in her rocker next to me, eyes half open, but not quite closed. Pretty much time for the next feed now. The good thing is she has been settled long enough for me to eat my dinner. Steak sandwich, minus the sandwich. The bread had gone crusty on the bench by the time I got to it.

Night all xo

* * * * *

Update, 10 minutes later: Aaaaand now I’m covered in spew. The baby’s, that is, not Prince Charming’s. That would really be something to be upset about.

at home

Yesterday is the first day I actually felt like my life had begun to return to semi-normal after having a baby. Those first few weeks were such a fog, part delicious, part difficult. While I was there in that space, I felt like my real and normal life was all around me, but I couldn’t quite grasp it. I was in the middle of my place, with my things and my day-to-day sitting there, but I was somewhere else.

There are a few things I know about myself. One of them is that I am a creature of habit, I’m a gal who loves her routine. Having a new baby pretty much flies in the face of any type of routine imaginable. I did find that hard the first few weeks, but the beauty of it being the second time around is that I know how fast this time goes, so to enjoy the moments that I may have otherwise missed last time.

This week we are on our own to practice our new day to day life for the first time. I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of my normal life, and flowing through our new rhythm. Tomorrow morning the big kid has a dance class, then goes off to Nan’s for the day. Tuesday she has Montessori. These are the two days I used to be at work, so now I’m thinking they will be the days where I try to get some things done around the house while I’ve got a sleeping baby and am toddler free. Also hoping for a relaxed coffee on these days (I mean, only one of those days because I don’t drink coffee everyday, remember?)… wishful thinking? I’m guessing it will be more like pace-around-the-house-with-crying-baby day, but we’ll see. Wednesdays we have mother’s group, Thursdays used to be my day for food shopping but someone would have to drag me by my toenails to get me to go food shopping with a toddler and a newborn. So that is now declared our home day. Friday we spend time with our lovely extended family, that is the day I get to act all pitiful and hopeless and aunties and cousins and sisters make me cups of tea and play with my babies while I flop on the couch all doomsday like. Until they get sick of that act I guess and then we’ll go back to our regular crafternoon and I’ll have to make them cups of tea while they complain about their crochet skills.

That’s my week to come. You?